The Quad Cities region is nestled on the only section of the Mississippi River that runs East to West. This may cause confusion for visitors who think they are still heading North or South – the natural flow of the River. The Quad Cities is also home to the Rock River, which empties into the Mississippi River in Rock Island.
Although referred to as the Quad Cities, the area is actually made up of five cities two counties, two states and numerous outlying areas. The major cities include Rock Island, Moline, East Moline in Illinois and Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa. Outlying areas include Milan, and Port Byron in Illinois and Pleasant Valley and LeClaire in Iowa.
How about a little history?
Just two weeks after the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River opened, the steamboat Effie Afton collided with the bridge causing both to burn. Although the bridge was rebuilt and reopened in September 1856, court cases involving the railroad’s right to span the river followed for several years thereafter. In the first court case in 1857, then-attorney Abraham Lincoln defended the railroad against steamboat interests at the U. S. Circuit Court in Chicago. Because the jury failed to reach a verdict and was discharged, the bridge remained. The case was taken all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court, which ruled in January 1863 that the bridge could remain.
Buffalo Bill Cody was born in LeClaire, Iowa, just up river. He lived there during his boyhood years. The original Buffalo Bill Cody homestead still stands today.
The Government Bridge or Arsenal Bridge, as it’s called, in the Quad Cities is one of only two bridges in the world that turns 360 degrees in either direction and it is powered by an antique trolley motor.
The riverbluffs of Rock Island along the Rock River were home to Saukenuk Village, formed by the Sauk Tribe. It was the largest American Indian settlement in North America, with an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 Sauk living in the village. The great Sauk warrior Black Hawk was a famous member of the tribe. Today, Black Hawk State Historic Site recognizes this wonderful tribe, its history and daily life during the early 1800’s at the John Hauberg Indian Museum. The historic site also features a forest preserve and trails.
Zebulon Pike, camped at the mouth of the Rock River in 1805 before heading west to discover Pike’s Peak
The movie, “Road to Perdition,” was taken from a book titled the same, and written by Max Allen Collins of Muscatine, Iowa – just 20 minutes from the Quad Cities. The book told the story of John Looney a Quad Cities racketeer. The name of the main character in the movie was changed to John Rooney because they felt the name was more believable then Looney. In the Quad Cities, the building that housed Looney’s paper, his home and other historical locations, still stands today in Rock Island, Illinois. A historical brochure and editorial piece have been printed and is available for visitors to tour the Looney history.
Ronald Reagan began his career at WOC, first radio station west of the Mississippi River.
Home to John Deere – The inventor of the self-scouring plow and the man who built the largest agricultural manufacturing company in the world – Deere & Company – the world headquarters is located in the Quad Cities.
Rock Island’s economy prospered in 1856 when the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad (the first to be robbed by Jesse James) built the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi.
Walt Disney applied for his first job at the Victor Animatograph Corp. in Davenport. They didn’t hire him.
In the epic Civil War novel, “Gone with the Wind” the fictional character Ashley Wilkes was said to have been held at the Confederate prison on the Rock Island Arsenal. The white marble gravestones at the Confederate cemetery on the Island, in rows of 100, contain only the soldier’s name, regiment and grave number.
Davenport is home to Iowa’s only magic shop–Mr. Wong’s House of Magic. They have supplies for magicians, jugglers, clowns, and costumes.
Robert “Rube” Marshall (1880-1958) an end for the Rock Island Independents was one of the first two African Americans to play for the NFL (originally known as the American Professional Football Association). He played for the Independents from 1919-1921. The Rock Island Independents played from 1910-1927.
In 1885, Dr. William West Grant of Davenport, Iowa, performed what is believed to be the first successful appendectomy in the U.S.
Alexander Victor from Davenport, Iowa, invented the first electric washing machine for the White Lily Company. He then went on to invent an amateur Motion Picture Camera and Projector and start the Victor Animatograph Corporation in Davenport. This company manufactured the first 16mm motion picture projector, and became a leader in the field of motion picture technology.